PHOENIX, AZ (January 10, 2011) - Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued the following statement today:
The tragic shootings in Tucson this past weekend have prompted understandable outrage and strong emotions. Nonetheless, it is a gross disservice to the citizens of Arizona for public officials to characterize our citizens as prejudiced, bigoted or in any way intolerant based on the violent actions of one individual whose motivations and state of mind are still under investigation.
For my part, as an elected law enforcement official for the largest county in Arizona, I believe the heroic actions taken by individuals in the immediate aftermath of the incident and the outpouring of compassion throughout the state are much more indicative of the kind of people we are. Regardless of political affiliation, Arizonans throughout the state have taken the time to stop and pray and show their support for the victims and their families. That’s the Arizona I know.
Arizonans are a caring, freedom-loving people with a strong sense of right and wrong. We engage in vigorous debate over issues we care passionately about. Regardless of the nature of our political rhetoric and political discussions, it does not excuse, justify or even explain the violent conduct of one individual, and it is highly irresponsible for elected leaders to suggest otherwise.
It is equally unwise and premature to try and draw systemic solutions from this single terrible incident. The more responsible course of action is to wait until all available information has been evaluated before we determine what, if anything, could be done from a system response standpoint to prevent a recurrence of this kind of tragedy. However, the unfortunate reality is that if an individual single-mindedly commits themselves to a criminal action, there is little anyone can do to stop it.